As you peruse the internet and local print publications in the coming weeks, you may notice an ad similar to the one posted above, as seen on latimes.com. It’s part of Metro’s ongoing effort to let the public know that the draft environmental impact report/statement (DEIR/S) for the SR-710 North project is scheduled for public release in February. The ads encourage the public to “Learn the facts; Get Involved; Be part of the solution.”
The study is a big deal. The DEIR/S is funded by Measure R — the half-cent sales tax approved by nearly 68 percent of Los Angeles County voters in 2008 — and has been in the works since early 2011. The project aims to improve traffic in the western San Gabriel Valley and the surrounding area, with a particular focus on the communities near the four-mile gap in the 710 freeway between El Sereno/Alhambra and Pasadena and the regional impact of the gap on other freeways.
The five alternatives being studied are: a freeway tunnel (with and without tolls, with express bus service and with local traffic and intersection improvements); bus rapid transit between East Los Angeles and Pasadena; light rail between East Los Angeles and Pasadena; road, intersection and traffic signal improvements (officially known as Transportation Systems Management or TSM), and; the legally-required no-build option.
There have already been almost 100 community meetings and more than 200 stakeholder briefings – with more to come. While there’s no getting around the fact that the tunnel alternative remains controversial in some quarters, Metro has tried to raise awareness of the five alternatives equally and encourages public participation during the upcoming 90-day comment period following the release of the DEIR/S. The Metro Board of Directors will ultimately select a preferred alternative and forward their recommendation to Caltrans — but that only will come after hearing what the public has to say about the environmental studies.
Here’s the project web page on metro.net. The “facts vs. fiction” section is part of the ongoing effort to explain some of the basics about the study and project for those who have not been following the work. The public can receive updates on the upcoming environmental document release by signing up at: http://www.metro.net/projects/sr-710-conversations/commentquestion-form/